From complete paralysis to complete rehabilitation

Yair Harfuf, 33, was a healthy and athletic father of two living in Eilat when he suddenly developed excruciating headaches, extreme weakness, and fatigue. After spending a day in the emergency room of the Yoseftal Medical Center in Eilat, he was transferred to the Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva where his condition deteriorated further. As a result, Yair was anesthetized and put on a ventilator for a month and a half.

He arrived at the Reuth Tel Aviv Rehabilitation Hospital in mid-December and was hospitalized in the respiratory rehabilitation department. He was conscious and dependent on a ventilator. Throughout his stay at Reuth, Yair underwent intensive rehabilitation during which he was weaned from the ventilator. As his condition continued to improve, he began to be more actively involved in the rehabilitation process.

Dr. Aryeh Altman, director of the respiratory rehabilitation department at Reuth, says: “Yair was admitted into our department in mid-December, when he was ventilated and fully conscious. His functional condition was very poor after spending over a month under anesthesia in the intensive care unit. He was confined to his bed and required round the clock nursing care. Yair suffered from weakness in his left limb, difficulty remembering and concentrating – all of which are neurological manifestations of his disease.

“The sooner the process of weaning from ventilation begins, the higher the chances of it being successful. Yair’s chances of recovery were high also because of his young age.

“Yair’s rehabilitation process began as soon as he arrived at Reuth, while he was still dependent on a ventilator. As his functional condition improved, he was weaned from the ventilator and his level of involvement in the treatment sessions increased. He underwent complex, multidisciplinary rehabilitation which involved overcoming swallowing difficulties and returning to regular eating, improving cognitive, memory, and concentration skills, working on motor functions, stability, weight bearing, muscle strength, and cardiopulmonary endurance.

“Fortunately, Yair was recently released from the hospital in excellent condition. He will continue to undergo rehabilitation within the framework of day hospitalization.

“Autoimmune inflammation of the central nervous system, known as autoimmune encephalitis, is a rare condition in which the immune systems attacks healthy brain cells. The disease causes a number of neurological symptoms such as severe headaches, extreme fatigue, confusion, memory loss, blurred consciousness, and decreased function. It is a serious condition that can lead to irreversible damage and severe disabilities. One of our patients had contracted the disease over a decade ago and is currently unconscious. Yair’s case was our first time rehabilitating a young man suffering from this condition. He was very lucky”.

  In an interview with Zamin+ — a supplement of Yedioth Ahronoth, Yair opened up about his rehabilitation at Reuth, “I arrived there 100% paralyzed and in need of nursing care. I even needed them to reposition me in bed. Nevertheless, the staff didn’t give up on me and I also didn’t give up on myself. Gradually, I became able to do more and work hard during the rehabilitation treatments”.

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